When the Oura V3 launched last fall, it was met with both excitement and frustration. First, was the excitement of a new product with a slate of new features, then there was the concurrent frustration of a new pricing model that meant buying both the $300 ring hardware and a $6/month subscription fee ($60-$72/year depending on how you sign-up) for said new features (previous Oura rings didn’t have any subscription fee). Setting aside the subscription debacle for a second, the feature excitement was further tapered when we found how that basically none of the new features were available at launch – with features set to instead appear by the end of the year (2021).
That didn’t happen.
The CEO resigned. And users became frustrated with both backorder and customer support delivery times.
And as we got into 2022, the promises and timelines became more and more vague. Exactly one month ago today, I asked if there were any updated timelines at all, and the official PR response I got was:
“…the features including Workout Heart Rate and the updated Sleep Algorithm are coming this year”
Which, isn’t a terribly detailed timeline. Given that we had gone from something that was supposed to be a few weeks away, to what basically amounted to a nebulous ‘hopefully in the next year’.
The New Plan:
However, Oura has now sent out an e-mail to all users that outlines their current timelines for the three missing features. I’ve included the full e-mail at the end, but the timelines are as follows:
Workout Heart Rate: June 2022, but only for running, cycling, and walking
Blood Oxygen Levels: “Available this summer”
Sleep Staging Algorithm Update: “this fall”
Obviously, this is all pretty disappointing, for a variety of reasons. First, the fact that the workout heart rate will only work for three sports is perplexing. My assumption here is they’re trying to add more detailed activity recognition or such for those three sports, but frankly, I don’t think people care. They just want accurate HR during any workout type (currently, the sensor in Oura isn’t powered on to a level to even remotely capture workout data, it’ll often read 80-90bpm when I’m doing 160bpm. This is as expected, since they haven’t toggled the sensor to capture that yet. I detail this in my review more and Oura’s response).
I was already very concerned about how long (months or years) it would take for the company (really, any company) to get accurate workout heart rate on their first sensor. I think this only deepens that concern, since it implies they’re trying to focus on getting just three sports right. As such, that likely implies they’re having signal/noise accuracy issues that require more thought than they assumed.
Oura’s e-mail notes the range of things they’re looking at (which, is the same as any other company…except trying to do it on the finger):
“Ensuring Workout Heart Rate meets our high standards and works well across a range of physical factors, environments, temperatures, and activities has been of utmost importance, and we’re happy to report that our science and technology teams are now in the final stages of development and testing. Your heart rate is a key indicator of workout intensity, and Oura’s insights not only help you understand how hard you’ve pushed yourself, but also the relationship between your Readiness Score and workout heart rate.“
Next, there’s blood oxygen levels. Their focus here is nightly sleep levels, as noted in the e-mail when they say:
“….we’ve been hard at work developing our Blood Oxygen sensing feature. Understanding variations in your overnight blood oxygen level, a measure of how well your body circulates and absorbs oxygen, will help you get an even more enhanced read on the quality of your nightly rest. Today, we are happy to update you that Blood Oxygen sensing will be available this summer.”
Measuring at sleep is logical, and what most focus is on these days. But there’s no clarity here on whether we’re talking June or the end of September (both of which are summer, as summer goes till Sept 23rd in many countries).
Which, I suppose is better than the ‘fall’ for the updated sleep algorithm. Now ironically, I actually agree with this. The whole concept of Oura touting a new sleep algorithm always seemed odd to me. Arguably, the single thing that Oura does right and better than anyone else is sleep. And while many can argue about sleep stages/phases, frankly, even many higher-end sleep-focused devices are fairly inaccurate in this area compared to the accuracy standards we’d expect in other medical/fitness realms. So honestly, I’m fine with this being pushed.
“And finally, furthering our commitment to deliver the best sleep tracking experience, we’ll also be launching an update to our Sleep Staging algorithm this autumn.”
Again, Autumn technically runs till December 21st, so basically it might be done by Christmas. Which, again, I think is actually good. Yes, improving your algorithms is always a goal, but don’t fix what isn’t broken – especially when you have a huge pile of legit broke/unfinished things to do first.
Now it’s worth noting that back in November/December, Oura announced that they’d defer the subscription fee for 6-months, effectively putting everyone on a 6-month trial (though, you still paid $300+ for the V3 hardware). Given these timelines clearly put people well past that 6-month period for the core new features that were promised, I’d hope that Oura re-extends that out to 12 months. And similarly, I’d be super frustrated if I were a legacy Oura user that paid to upgrade to the V3 hardware, only to have virtually none of it leveraged.
The Full E-mail:
Here’s a copy of the e-mail in full, titled “Upcoming Enhancements to Your Oura Ring Experience”:
“Dear Oura Member,
Today, we are excited to share an update with you about upcoming Oura features: Workout Heart Rate, Blood Oxygen (SpO2) Sensing, and an enhanced Sleep Staging algorithm.
We’re happy to announce that Workout Heart Rate tracking for running, cycling, and walking will be released in June 2022, with more workouts to be added throughout the year. We know this feature has been important to our community, and we’re eager to deliver a compelling, high quality experience very soon. Ensuring Workout Heart Rate meets our high standards and works well across a range of physical factors, environments, temperatures, and activities has been of utmost importance, and we’re happy to report that our science and technology teams are now in the final stages of development and testing. Your heart rate is a key indicator of workout intensity, and Oura’s insights not only help you understand how hard you’ve pushed yourself, but also the relationship between your Readiness Score and workout heart rate.
When it comes to sleep, we’re proud that Oura delivers one of the most comprehensive and accurate data sets of any consumer wearable on the market, and continuing to build on this strong foundation is a priority for Oura. For this reason, we’ve been hard at work developing our Blood Oxygen sensing feature. Understanding variations in your overnight blood oxygen level, a measure of how well your body circulates and absorbs oxygen, will help you get an even more enhanced read on the quality of your nightly rest. Today, we are happy to update you that Blood Oxygen sensing will be available this summer.
And finally, furthering our commitment to deliver the best sleep tracking experience, we’ll also be launching an update to our Sleep Staging algorithm this autumn.
We hope this update is a helpful glimpse into the roadmap ahead. We are committed to continuing to add enhancements and innovations to your experience and more value to your membership. Thank you for being a part of our community and making Oura a part of your health and wellness journey.
In good health,
The Oura team”
With that, I guess I’ll next check-in sometime this summer. Though, my wife bought a V3 ring, and has been testing out the period tracking features since early January (on iOS, it’s still not on Android – apparently coming in May there), so perhaps we’ll check-in before then (which, is really the single new meaningful feature on V3).
With that, thanks for reading!